"It’s that good"

"Once again, the Perinis have produced a keeper, a book that could be a Texas favorite for the next twenty years."

 

Prepare to be blown away by the new Perini cookbook. I certainly was.

 

Perini Ranch Steakhouse: Stories and Recipes for Real Texas Food ($34.95 hardcover) by Lisa and Tom Perini, partnering with veteran award-winning cookbook author Cheryl Alters Jamison and acclaimed food photographer Wyatt McSpadden, simply sets a new standard for cookbooks. It’s that good.

 

Not that the old Perini cookbook, Texas Cowboy Cooking, was bad. It was great. When Carlton Stowers and I wrote 101 Essential Texas Books a few years ago, we listed it first in the section on cookbooks, commenting, “If you had to limit your collection of Texas cookbooks to just one book, this would be the one to keep.”

 

But now, after twenty years, the Perinis decided it was time to retire Texas Cowboy Cooking and bring out a brand-new book, filled with many of the same recipes but also some new ones, as well as new stories and dozens of exquisite, mouth-watering photos. The book will be released at their Buffalo Gap steakhouse on Saturday and then to the public next week.

 

I managed to get a sneak peek of the new cookbook—not the actual book but a digital copy of it—and, oh my, it is absolutely stunning.

 

Perini Ranch Steakhouse includes about 100 recipes and the stories behind them and twenty-five sidebar stories, collected in seven sections: The Cocktail Hour; Salads; Beef; Pork, Bison, Lamb, Chicken, Seafood; Side Dishes; Biscuits and Bread; and, of course, Desserts.

 

Readers will find most of their Perini favorites in the new book, along with the new recipes and new stories, including “Our Most Memorable Catering Job” —at the White House on September 11, 2001.

 

In the book’s introduction Tom Perini outlines the history of the steakhouse, about fifteen miles south of Abilene, noting that in the early years he had to borrow money from his mother to make payroll. But then came a review in the New York Times naming the Perini beef tenderloin as the year’s best holiday mail-order gift, and other good things soon followed. Perini Ranch Steakhouse flourished as a destination restaurant.

 

Perini’s became a favorite catering venue for Governor and then President George W. Bush, which is how they happened to be at the White House on 9-11. They were there to cater the president’s congressional picnic, but when airplanes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the picnic was canceled, and the food was sent over to the firefighters and other first responders.

 

That’s no doubt the best story in the book (page eighty-five), but there are plenty of others. And, as good as the stories are, they take a back seat to the recipes themselves, enhanced by wonderful photos and a handsome, inviting design.

 

Once again, the Perinis have produced a keeper, a book that could be a Texas favorite for the next twenty years.

 

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.